From left to right: The Italian Place General Manager Teresa Nacario, CEO and owner Adriana Penachio-Sifakis, and team members Davina Small and Andrea Ponce-Chavez in front of a wall of Naples at the new Mosaic District location (courtesy The Italian Place)

An Italian restaurant based in Alexandria is expanding with a second location at the Mosaic District in Merrifield, but patrons will have to wait a little longer than anticipated to try a sub or slice of pizza.

The Italian Place had planned to welcome customers to its new spot at 2985 District Avenue (Suite 190) this Saturday (July 24), but the grand opening will be delayed to August because more time is needed to prepare, owner and CEO Adriana Penachio-Sifakis says.

The restaurant confirmed the delay on Tuesday (July 20) on Facebook.

“We wished we had more hours in the day to prepare for our opening, and with thousands of RSVP’s for our upcoming grand opening ceremony, we will be postponing our opening by another week or so!” Penachio-Sifakis told Tysons Reporter by email.

She added that they hope to announce an exact opening date within the next week.

Penachio-Sifakis opened The Italian Place at 621 Wythe Street in Old Town Alexandria in September 2016, inspired by the traditions and values imparted by her grandparents, who were the children of immigrants from a small province outside Naples, according to the restaurant’s website.

A photo of Naples adorns one wall of the new Mosaic District site, which also features an espresso bar.

“We are humbled by the love and appreciation our customers have for our food!” Penachio-Sifakis said. “They come back and they tell their friends about us and that really keeps us going!”

Encouraged by the restaurant’s warm reception in Alexandria, Penachio-Sifakis started exploring the idea of franchising in early 2020. She says her team “really fell in love” with the Mosaic District when they visited after the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, citing the development’s “outdoor walkability” and the quality of the brands there.

“[Mosaic District property owner EDENS] is led by a woman which impressed me and certainly persuaded me to expand my operation to a professionally and well-run community that has so many exciting plans for their residents and their visitors,” she said. “They have been enjoyable to work with and we look forward to a long-term relationship with them and have also viewed some of their other successful properties.”

The Italian Place’s menu features pizza, a variety of Italian subs, paninis, salads, and pasta. There are also breakfast options and soup specials, along with a new “secret” menu that includes a tuna melt sub, an Italian grinder, and a Mosaic classic sub with salami, provolone cheese, hot pepper spread, and other toppings.

The Italian Place will expand the Italian dining options at the Mosaic District, which currently has Alta Strada, Matchbox Pizza, Oath Pizza, and Dolcezza Gelato.

The Mexican restaurant Urbano, another import from Alexandria, opened there in December. The development will also get the first Virginia location of the D.C.-based Carribean eatery Colada Shop in conjunction with a small Bloomingdale’s store called Bloomie’s that is expected to open in August.

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 8:15 p.m. on 7/23/2021) Fairfax County School Board Members at Nats Park During Shooting — Karl Frisch and Megan McLaughlin, who respectively represent the Providence and Braddock districts on the school board, were at Nationals Park on Saturday (July 17) when gunfire outside the stadium sent fans running for cover and suspended the game. Three people were injured in the shooting, including a woman who was attending the game, according to police. [Karl Frisch/Twitter, Megan McLaughlin/Twitter]

Virginia Announces Universal Broadband Plan — Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan on Friday (July 16) to invest $700 million to make broadband services universally accessible throughout the state. The funds will come from the state’s $4.3 billion federal COVID-19 relief allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act. [The Washington Post]

Mosaic District Art Gallery Presents New Show — The Torpedo Factory Artists Association will present the results of its regional painting competition at The Gallery @ Mosaic (links corrected) from July 23 through August 22. With more than 30 paintings from nearly 400 submissions, the show will the association’s first regional painting showcase and give the pop-up gallery its first in-person reception since it recently reopened after closing for the COVID-19 pandemic. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

McLean Little League Softball Teams Celebrate Strong Seasons — “It has been the case for many years now, so it was no surprise that McLean Little League all-star girls softball teams again had strong showings in recent state tournaments, with one squad winning the championship and two others finishing second.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

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Bloomingdale’s is setting up shop at the Mosaic District — with a culinary twist.

The clothing retailer announced today (Wednesday) that it will launch a new concept for a smaller, more tailored store at the Merrifield mixed-use development on Aug. 26.

Dubbed “Bloomie’s,” the 22,000 square-foot venue will feature a rotating assortment of fashion brands as well as the first Virginia location of the Colada Shop, a Caribbean eatery and cafe that started in D.C. in 2016.

“Our new Bloomie’s store will deliver everything [customers] love about Bloomingdale’s in a highly edited, convenient, and unexpected way,” Bloomingdale’s CEO Tony Spring said in a press release. “We’ve been part of the Washington, D.C., metro area community for decades, and we are excited to welcome new and longtime customers to Bloomie’s to be the first to shop this fresh and casual experience.”

Bloomingdale’s plans to introduce a small-store concept at the Mosaic District this fall were first reported in January by the fashion magazine WWD and its sister publication Footwear News. The Mosaic District confirmed the news through social media.

According to Footwear News, Bloomie’s is part of a broader effort by Macy’s Inc. — Bloomingdale’s parent company — to adapt to an uncertain retail landscape that was shifting away from traditional department stores even before the tumult brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macy’s Inc. laid off about 3% of its workforce last summer, including hundreds of Bloomingdale’s executives, and is in the midst of a three-year downsizing plan that involves shuttering 125 stores and eliminating 2,000 positions, moves that the company projects will save $630 million annually.

Bloomingdale’s Director of Stores Charles Anderson says the company’s familiarity with the D.C. area, which includes a store in Tysons Corner Center, made the Mosaic District a logical place to introduce the Bloomie’s concept.

“We have two powerful existing Bloomingdale’s stores in the area and a vibrant online business, so Bloomie’s enters a market where customers know our brand,” Anderson said in a statement. “We chose this first Bloomie’s location within Mosaic District…because it provides an approachable and convenient location for customers.”

According to Bloomingdale’s press release, the Mosaic District store will emphasize fresh styles, with deliveries of new apparel coming in multiple times a week.

A centralized front desk will provide various customer services, including a returns dropbox, in-store and curbside pickups for online purchases, and customization and alteration services. The fitting rooms will also be outfitted with digital intercoms that customers can use to request assistance.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of Bloomie’s, however, is its partnership with Colada Shop, which will have an outdoor patio seating area in addition to its indoor dining room.

The restaurant serves coffee, cocktails, and a variety of Caribbean food, including Cuban sandwiches and empanadas, depending on the location. It currently has two sites in D.C. and one location in Potomac, Maryland.

“My team and I are incredibly excited to become part of one of the DMV’s most innovative retail and entertainment communities,” Colada Shop CEO and co-founder Daniella Senior said. “Not only are we energized to bring the Caribbean way of life to Virginia, but we are also honored to be side-by-side with our partners at Bloomie’s and committed to create the most vibrant and sophisticated experiences for our guests.”

The store will mark its arrival in the Mosaic District “pre-opening activations” throughout the month of August and various festivities during the week of its grand opening on Aug. 26, the press release says.

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Morning Notes

Metro to Phase Out Diesel Buses — The Metro Board of Directors approved a plan yesterday (Thursday) to phase out buses powered by diesel and natural gas over the next two decades with the goal of having a zero-emissions fleet by 2045. The transit agency will start adding electric buses in 2023 and cease purchases of emission-producing buses by 2030, a timeline that critics argued is too slow. [The Washington Post]

Approval of West Falls Church Plan Anticipated — “The Fairfax County Planning Commission, at its scheduled meeting next week, is expected to endorse the proposed amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan that will open up the potential for a large-scale coordinated development of WMATA’s West Falls Church Metro station property and adjacent property occupied by Virginia Tech.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Mosaic District to Open Rollerskating Rink — The Mosaic District in Merrifield will hold a grand opening celebration for its new Skateland rink from 5:30 to 10 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday). The disco-themed event will feature live music from the band Groovalicious and support Pride Month with 50% of ticket sales going to FCPS Pride. [EDENS]

Madison Baseball Vies for State Title — James Madison High School’s baseball team is set to compete in the 2021 Virginia High School League Class 6 state tournament tomorrow after defeating Lake Braddock 6-0 on Tuesday (June 22). If the Warhawks win, it would be the program’s first state championship since 2015 and its fourth ever. [Sun Gazette]

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Save those rotting veggies and bits of meat left over from last night’s dinner, because Fairfax County is expanding its composting program.

As of yesterday (Wednesday), residents can now bring their food scraps to four county farmers markets for composting. The locations include the Mosaic District Farmers Market, which operates year-round from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Food scrap composting turns waste into a resource. Those wrinkling carrots or uneaten bread crusts can be transformed over time into natural fertilizer, putting nutrients back into the soil.

Proper composting can also prevent food waste from ending up in landfills and streams, taking up space and potentially damaging the ecosystem.

“The county is working to divert as much waste from disposal as possible,” Fairfax County Department of Public Works spokesperson Sharon North said in an email. “In the past few years, we have focused on glass recycling and reducing contamination to improve single stream recycling…Providing food scraps drop off locations will help divert this compostable material from disposal.”

North says food scraps can account for as much as 20% of waste, but nearly all of it can be composted, including meat, bones, dairy, vegetables, fruit and bread.

Some food-related paper products, such as paper plates, paper towels, and napkins, can be composted as well, as long as there’s no cleaning products or bodily fluids on them. Plastic bags, dryer sheets, yard waste, fats, oils, grease, tin foil, and foam containers, however, should never be composted.

Fairfax County first implemented a composting pilot program in November 2020 at two larger locations: the I-95 Landfill Complex in Lorton and I-66 Solid Waste Transfer Station in Fairfax.

North says the initial pilot program was a success, prompting county leaders to discuss options for an expansion.

“One of the main things we learned is that our residents are willing to separate out food scraps and bring them to compost drop off locations,” she writes.

The I-95 landfill and I-66 transfer station will remain permanent composting drop-off sites. The four farmers markets that are now part of the program’s expansion were specifically chosen due to their accessibility and central locations within the county.

Three of the chosen markets are seasonal and managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Mosaic District farmers’ market is a year-round, private market operated by FreshFarm.

“Making locations more accessible throughout the county at Farmers Markets will allow for more opportunities to drop off food scraps for composting rather than having that material in the trash,” North said.

The compost program is expected to cost the county an estimated $50,000 annually.

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Production of the new mural by artists Jessie and Katey to be unveiled at The Boro this week (courtesy The Boro)

(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (June 22)

  • Duck Harbor (Online) — 8 p.m. — A heartwarming web series about a bi-coastal love story written by E.M. Lewis and Bob Bartlett, this online, live theatrical performance from 1st Stage airs for free every Tuesday at 8 p.m. All aired episodes and bonus content will also be available through Duck Harbor ALL ACCESS for $15.

Thursday (June 24)

  • Summer Live Music: Zach Cutler — 5-8 p.m. at the Upper Promenade near Boro Park (8350 Broad St.) — This week’s live music series at The Boro features local guitarist Zach Cutler. RSVP to receive more information.
  • Films in the Park: The Birdcage — 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Strawberry Park (2910 District Ave.) — The Mosaic District’s Films in the Park series continues this Thursday with The Birdcage starring Robin Williams and Gene Hackman. The film is rated R and will run for one hour and fifty-seven minutes. Grab your picnic blanket and join your neighbors at Strawberry Park for a movie night!
  • Concerts in the Park — 7-9 p.m. at Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave.) — This week’s Concert in the Park in Falls Church features local cover band Nomad. They’ll be playing classic rock songs from artists like The Beatles, Rolling Stones and more. Email [email protected] with questions or concerns.

Friday (June 25)

  • Wolf Trap Salon Series (Online) — 7 p.m. — A series of online opera recitals curated by the artists in the show. The virtual performance gives “an intimate look into artistry…providing a unique glimpse into how they interpret art, songs and the world around them.”

Saturday (June 26)

  • Drag Storybook Hour10:30 & 11:30 a.m. at Dolley Madison Library (1244 Oak Ridge Ave.) — Come join one of two drag storybook hours to celebrate Pride Month. This event is free and appropriate for all ages. It’s co-sponsored by Fairfax County Public Library and the McLean Community Center.
  • Mural Unveiling at The Boro — 12-4 p.m. at The Boro (8350 Broad St.) — Muralists Jessie Unterhalter & Katey Truhn have finished their mural at The Boro, and there is a party to celebrate its completion. RSVP to see the unveiling, eat snacks, games, arts and crafts, live music and more fun!
  • ShowPlace ICON F9 Car Meet — 4-8 p.m. at the ShowPlace ICON Theatre parking lot (1667 Silver Hill Dr.)Join other car enthusiests to celebrate the release of “F9: The Fast Saga.” The car meet-up is free and will happen rain or shine.
  • Mosaic Skateland Grand Opening — 5:30-10 p.m. at Mosaic Skateland (2910 District Ave.) — The Mosaic District invites the community to a “disco-inspired celebration” at its new roller rink, featuring live music from the band Groovalicious. In honor of Pride month, 50% of roller rink tickets sales will be donated to Fairfax County Public Schools Pride, which works to make an inclusive and respectful  enviornment for all students. Purchase tickets in advance or on site.

Sunday (June 27)

  • Summer Sunday Concert: JoJo & The Pinecones — 5 p.m. at the McLean Central Park gazebo (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd.) — McLean’s Summer Concert series continues this Sunday with a free, family-friendly show by the New York City based group, JoJo & The Pinecones.
  • 1st Stage Celebration at The Boro Benefit  — 5-8 p.m. at Boro Park (8350 Broad St.) — A live concert reading of “A New Brain” by William Finn and James Lapine will be preformed as the 2021 benefit for 1st Stage. In-person tickets are sold out, but the event will also be available for free online. Register online for a link to the live-stream. There is also an option to donate to the theater.
  • Aspirations to Reality — 7 p.m. at Church of the Holy Comforter (543 Beulah Rd.) — Artists from HALO Inc. will sing in a variety of styles and deliver a spoken narrative at this free outdoor concert on the church’s front lawn. The concert is part of the Town of Vienna’s Liberty Amendments Month festivities.
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Morning Notes

Police Face Pressure from Understaffing, Reform Advocates — The McLean Citizens Association’s recent public safety forum highlighted a number of issues facing the Fairfax County Police Department, from struggles to recruit and retain officers to calls for additional reforms to address civil rights concerns and improve transparency. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

All Terrain Vehicle Caused Building Fire in Tysons — “Building fire on 4/24 at 1:49 PM in 1500 block Spring Hill Rd, Tysons. Crews located ATV on fire in repair shop. Fire extinguished by fire sprinkler system. No injuries reported. Cause: an electrical malfunction involving the wiring circuit of ATV. Damages: $6K.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter]

Citizens Group Unimpressed by Proposed Falls Church School Names — A group of citizens led by a former Falls Church City mayor and two former vice mayors says that none of the names proposed as replacements for George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School “resonated” with them. The school board is scheduled to choose new names tonight (Tuesday). [Falls Church News-Press]

Vienna to Put Cottage Housing on Display — “Cottage housing…increasingly is in demand as home prices skyrocket and people’s desires for simpler living increase. To give the public a sense of how such a collection of diminutive dwellings might be arranged, the Vienna Planning and Zoning Department from May 8 through 23 will display a scale-model development using dog houses at the Vienna Town Green.” [Sun Gazette]

Meat-Centered Restaurant Reopens in Mosaic DistrictThe B Side, a restaurant supported by Red Apron Butcher, started offering indoor dining again for the first time in more than a year earlier this month. Chef and butcher Nathan Anda marked the occasion with a brand-new menu that features everything from schnitzel to a wagyu pastrami bowl. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

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Morning Notes

Vienna Police Announce Drug Take Back Day — The Vienna Police Department will host a collection site for old, expired, unused, and unwanted medications at its temporary facility (301 Center Street) on April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The one-day event is part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Prescription Drug Take Back initiative. [Vienna Police Department]

Capital One Hall Season Two Applications Due May 1 — Tysons’ new performing arts venue won’t open until October, but the deadline is already approaching for community arts groups to apply for space in the second season, which will begin on Sept. 1, 2022. The nonprofit ArtsFairfax is managing the application process on Fairfax County’s behalf. [Fairfax County Government]

Tysons Media Company Launches Lifestyle TV Network — “Tysons, Virginia-based Tegna Inc., owner of 64 television stations including WUSA9 in D.C., has launched a 24-hour, women-oriented lifestyle and reality TV network called Twist — and watching it comes with a twist as well.” [WTOP]

Vienna to Bring Back In-Person “Walk on the Hill” Event — The Town of Vienna’s annual spring Walk on the Hill program will return on April 25 with self-guided garden tours and live entertainment. COVID-19 protocols mean that the event will be limited to 500 total attendees, and participants must sign up in advance for one of two shifts.” [Town of Vienna]

Fairfax County Police Coming to Mosaic District — “Join Fairfax County Police Department at Mom and Pop on April 13 from 10am-12pm. Please adhere to all social distancing guidelines: maintain a 6-foot distance and please wear a face covering.” [Mosaic District/Twitter]

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(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Framebridge is officially open for business at the Mosaic District in Merrifield.

The custom framing company opened its doors for the first time today at 11 a.m. Located in Suite 165 at 2910 District Ave, this is Framebridge’s sixth store overall and its first in Virginia, though a Clarendon location is slated to open later this spring.

A Union Market store in downtown D.C. is also in the works, according to the company’s website.

Based in D.C., Framebridge launched in 2014 as an entirely online retail startup but began expanding into brick-and-mortar stores with its locations in D.C. and Bethesda, Md., in 2019.

Founder and CEO Susan Tynan says she wanted to stay true to the company’s “neighborhood concept” by expanding in the D.C. area.

“The Mosaic District was an obvious choice because we have a lot of existing online customers nearby, but we can also reach new customers shopping at all of the other great restaurants and stores in the center,” Tynan said. “We love the community of brands and organizations in Mosaic, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

She adds that the first item they had framed in the Mosaic store was a souvenir from the Washington Nationals’ 2019 World Series championship.

To celebrate its arrival in Merrifield, Framebridge is offering to frame “mementos from customers’ personal achievements” for free if they book a 30-minute session with a design consultant, a spokesperson says. The offer lasts through April 11.

The store says walk-in customers are welcome, but the number of patrons allowed inside at one time is being limited to ensure adequate social distancing as part of its COVID-19 safety protocols. Masks are required for both customers and employees.

Hand sanitizer is being provided in the store. Employees also clean their work stations, surfaces, and devices after every consultation and undergo health screenings when they arrive each day, according to Framebridge.

Photo courtesy Framebridge

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The weather is getting warmer and the sun is shining longer, but spring really arrives in D.C. when the thousands of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin start to bloom.

Organizers announced on March 1 that this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival will take place from March 20 through April 11. The National Park Service currently predicts that the flowers will be in peak bloom sometime between April 2 and 5.

With COVID-19 still posing health risks after mostly shutting down last year’s showcase, the 2021 festival has been reimagined in a less concentrated format with a combination of in-person and virtual activities that will encompass the entire D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

In addition to promoting regionwide events, such as the “Art in Bloom” sculptures and “Petal Porch Parade,” Fairfax County will host events of its own in coordination with the larger festival, many of them designed to showcase local gardens and parks or celebrate the coming of spring.

Supported by Visit Fairfax, the county’s official tourism organization, the festivities include:

  • Festival Central (March 20-April 11): The Fairfax County Visitor Center at Tysons Corner Center will provide free cherry blossom-themed souvenirs and information about the festival. It will also host its annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Day from 1-3 p.m. on March 27, which will feature a calligraphy demonstration.
  • The Science Behind Flowers (March 20-April 11): A program on botanical chemistry, invasive and native plants, ecological restoration, and other flower-related topics will stream online throughout the festival, courtesy of the Children’s Science Center.
  • Spring Fling Tour (March 27): Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon will have “special stations” throughout its nature trail “to build a fairy house” and provide Japanese tea at its meeting house.
  • Wabi-Sabi: Embracing Imperfection (March 28): Alexandria’s Green Spring Gardens will host a program on wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy focused on finding beauty in an imperfect natural world. Attendees will get tea samples and traditional sweets in an optional tea box. The event costs $12-24 and requires advance online registration.
  • Spring-Themed Drive-in Movies (April 3-4): Mosaic District is resuming its drive-in movie screenings with a pair of double features, starting with “Mary Poppins” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” followed by “Hop” and “42.” Tickets cost $28 per car and can be purchased online.
  • Community Market and Workshops (April 10): The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton will feature cherry blossom-inspired artwork, a marketplace, and various workshops, including origami crafts, haiku contests, and Japanese drumming.
  • Plants & Design (April 10): Led by horticulturalist Bevan Shimizu, Green Spring Gardens will offer a virtual, hour-long program about Japanese-style garden design. The program costs $18 and requires advance registration.

Visit Fairfax also advises residents and visitors to take the opportunity provided by the festival to tour the county’s parks, including Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, which has a lake surrounded by more than 100 cherry trees.

Though the format is different this year, Visit Fairfax president and CEO Barry Biggar says the influx of tourism that typically accompanies the annual cherry blossom festival has long benefitted not just the nation’s capital, but also the D.C. region as a whole.

“The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the nation’s greatest celebrations of spring and Visit Fairfax has been a proud supporter for many, many years,” Biggar said. “…People may come because they are familiar with the blossoms along the Tidal Basin, but we encourage visitors and residents to also explore some of the wonderful cultural events and attractions, spacious gardens and parks, and beautiful cherry trees that exist beyond the city.”

The festival will kick off at 6 p.m. on March 20 with a virtual opening ceremony. A full programming guide can be found on the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.

Photo courtesy Visit Fairfax

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